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Animal Foster Care
photo of foster kitty
 photo of nursing cat with kittens
 photo of foster dog swimming

photo of bottle-fed foster animal

Thank you for your interest in the Loudoun County Animal Services (LCAS) foster program. The foster program focuses on providing temporary housing for shelter animals in need!  Foster volunteers open their homes and hearts to animals who require extra attention and care, including those who are too young for adoption, require socialization and/or need medical care.  For more information, check out our Foster Program Flyer!

What types of animals are fostered?
The staff of LCAS assesses the needs of shelter animals and determines who would benefit from time in a foster home. Our greatest need is for fosters who can bottle feed kittens, and kittens are the animals most often sent to foster care. However, all of the following types of animals have been cared for by foster volunteers: 

Cats and Kittens
Foster volunteers provide in-home, individualized care for pregnant cats, nursing feline mothers and their babies, young kittens who need to be bottle-fed (additional training required), and weaned kittens less than eight weeks old who are not yet ready for adoption. The program also helps cats and kittens needing to go into foster homes for medical reasons or socialization. The shelter receives many kittens during “kitten season” May-October. Many of these kittens are too young to be adopted and must be in foster care until they are adoption age. Adult cats may also be sent to foster homes to give them a break from shelter life.

Special Needs Dogs
Occasionally, the shelter will receive a dog needing time in foster care for training, socialization or medical reasons.  The LCAS Behavior Program Manager works with the foster care program to assist canines in need. 

Small Animals
Small animals, such a rabbits and guinea pigs, benefit from time in a foster home where they are provided with one-on-one care and socialization to prepare them for adoption. 

Am I ready to foster?
Becoming a foster care provider is a big decision, but a very rewarding one.  Ask yourself the following questions to determine if you are ready: 

  1. Does fostering fit into my life and home?  While in your home, foster animals become a part of your daily routine. You will spend time feeding, cleaning and socializing. You will also need to be able to make trips to and from the shelter and/or the shelter’s contracted veterinarian’s office. If an emergency should occur, you must be able to promptly transport the animal to a designated veterinarian for treatment.
  2. Am I able to separate foster animals from my own animals?  For the health of all animals, it is best to keep your pets separate from shelter pets. An area with no carpet works best.
  3. Does my schedule allow for fostering?  Consider your day-to-day routine and assess how much time you have to spend with foster animals. The fostering period can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the needs of the animal. During the foster period, you will need to pay close attention to your foster pets to monitor their health and normal behavior patterns (ie- eating habits, weight gain/loss, etc).  By doing this, you can quickly spot signs of illness or any other concerns.
  4. Am I comfortable explaining to friends and family that these foster animals are not mine to adopt out and that they have to follow the LCAS adoption process?  If you are interested in helping to find homes for your foster animals, please refer friends and family to shelter staff. LCAS staff will assist with the adoption process so you can focus on caring for your foster pet.
  5. Am I emotionally prepared to return animals to the shelter at the end of the foster period?  It can be difficult to return a foster pet to the shelter once you have become emotionally attached. Many of our staff members have fostered shelter pets and understand the emotions involved with the return process.  Remember that because of your love and attention, these pets-in-need have had time in a warm and nurturing home environment.  The hard work of foster volunteers saves lives!
What is the process to become a foster care provider?
  1. Complete a foster application and drop it off or mail it to Loudoun County Animal Services (ATTN: Foster Program), 39820 Charles Town Pike, Waterford, VA 20197; fax it to 540-882-3984; or email it to us. You may download an application here.  Please note that applicants must be 18 years of age to apply for the foster program.
  2. The application is received by the shelter and submitted for review.  Applicants may be contacted for a follow-up conversation.
  3. Foster applicants will be contacted to attend an orientation.      

LCAS provides training and reference materials for foster volunteers.  An orientation is required for foster applicants.  We also provide each new foster volunteer with a manual full of important information, including phone numbers for questions or emergencies.  Those interested in bottle-fed kittens must attend a training class as these little ones require extensive care.

If you are not able to foster and would still like to help in some way, we have information about other volunteer opportunities on our About Volunteering page. Please take a moment to review how you can help shelter animals in need.

Thank you for your interest in our foster program!  If you have any questions, please email us

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